Just over 28 years ago – 2/21/1988 to be exact, there was sunshine and snow at Salt Lick Curve. Oh yeah, there was a train there too!
Chessie System (B&O) GP40-2 4162 leads a train of coal cars east from the bituminous of West Virginia. She’s been climbing Cranberry Grade out of the Cheat River Valley in Rowlesburg towards the summit at Terra Alta at speeds in the high teens. Cranberry Grade is part of the storied West End of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (now part of CSX).
It’s a battle of machine versus nature on this beautiful February day.
Sunshine and snow at Salt Lick Curve happened more often than sunshine, snow and a train came together at Salt Lick Curve, so I’m glad I was able to capture this.
Even more amazing is that the 4162 is reasonably clean, allowing her dress of Enchantment Blue, Vermillion Red and Federal Yellow to pop out from the snow and bare trees (Mrs. Frog would call them “naked” trees, but I digress.)
There are three SD-50 locomotives with their collective 10,500 horsepower pushing on the rear of the train. Hard to believe that the 13,500 horsepower on the front of the train needed assistance, but that’s the West End for you.
This area of West Virginia and neighboring western Maryland can have absolutely brutal weather in winter. If you’ve ever heard Oakland, MD mentioned during a weather report, this train is on its’ way there. It was gray and cloudy at the bottom of the hill in Rowlesburg. The weather at Terra Alta was like it was at the bottom, just maybe a little brighter. I don’t have any notes as to the temperature that day, but I do have pictures of the MK Helpers (the SD50s) east of Amblersburg and the train cresting the hill at Terra Alta that might make it here to complete the story.
I do seem to remember getting a flat tire on the wooded bridge over the yard as I was leaving Rowlesburg. I think it was this day. Whatever day it was, driving home with my summer spare on the right rear was no fun…
Fortunately, the trains don’t move all that fast uphill, and I didn’t miss the chase.
This image is not yet on Laughing Frog Images. It will make it to what will probably be a gallery devoted to the West End.
It’s 80-something degrees as I write this, and when I came across the image and saw the date, well, it just called to me to be shared.
Scanned from a Kodachrome 64 slide using a HP S-20i scanner at 2400 dpi.